6 Ways To Help Prevent Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is a very serious and incurable eye condition that mainly affects older people. According to the Macular Degeneration Foundation, macular degeneration is the most prevalent cause of vision loss for Americans over the age of 55. Macular degeneration causes the retina to deteriorate, eventually leading to permanent loss of vision and even blindness. Luckily, there are six things you can do to help prevent this eye disease from starting in the first place:

See Your Optometrist Regularly

Stop putting off that annual eye exam. Regular visits to your optometrist will help you keep on top of your visual health and be one of your main tools in fighting eye disease. If a problem with your vision begins to develop, your optometrist will be able to catch it early and help you to come up with a plan for stopping it in its tracks. The longer you put off optometrist visits, the longer any potential eye disease has to take root and worsen.

Quit Smoking

Smoking is one of the biggest factors in developing macular degeneration, with smokers facing around four times the risk of developing the eye disease than non-smokers. Smoking of course also increases your risk of a variety of other serious illnesses including lung cancer, emphysema and heart disease. By quitting smoking, you will be making a drastic step toward improving your overall health as well as decreasing your odds of developing macular degeneration.

Eat a Healthy, Nutrient-Rich Diet

Eating a healthy diet that is rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants not only helps keep you healthy overall, but it can also specifically help protect your eyes from eye disease. In particular, a diet full of anti-oxidants known as carotenoids have been shown to help protect the eyes from macular degeneration.

Foods containing carotenoids include dark leafy greens like spinach and kale, as well as carrots. If you're not a big fan of vegetables try adding them to your morning smoothie for a burst of nutrients in a more palatable form.

Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses help protect your eyes from the harmful sunrays that damage your vision over time. Instead of buying cheap sunglasses that offer little actual protection from the sun, be sure to spend a little more on sunglasses that come with full spectrum UV protection, in order to best protect your eyesight while in the sun. If you wear glasses, ask your optometrist about prescription sunglasses.

Exercise Regularly and Keep a Healthy Weight

Like many illnesses, eye diseases are less likely to affect those who exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. Most doctors recommend getting at least thirty minutes of cardio exercise at least a few days a week. Some great sources of cardio include running, swimming, dancing, and aerobics classes. Choose the workout that you enjoy the most, as long as it's something that helps get your heart rate up and makes you break a sweat.  

Get Plenty of Omega-3

Omega-3 or fish oil is known to help improve overall eye health and to help guard your eyes from deterioration. The most nutritionally sound way to get omega-3 is to consume it in the form of fish, particularly salmon. Flaxseed and walnuts are also great sources of omega-3s. On days when you're not able to incorporate enough omega-3 into your diet, it's a good idea to take an omega-3 fish oil supplement instead.

By following these six steps, you can take charge of your visual health and help prevent macular degeneration as well as other eye diseases. In addition, most of these steps will help you to be healthier overall as an added bonus.